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Subject: AEJ 05 FolmarJ PR Why are More Women than Men Attracted to the Field of Public Relations? Analyzing Students Reasons for Studying PR
From: Elliott Parker <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:AEJMC Conference Papers <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 6 Feb 2006 14:33:17 -0500
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This paper was presented at the Association for Education in Journalism and
Mass Communication in San Antonio, Texas August 2005.
         If you have questions about this paper, please contact the author
directly. If you have questions about the archives, email
rakyat [ at ] eparker.org. For an explanation of the subject line, 
send email to
[log in to unmask] with just the four words, "get help info aejmc," in the
body (drop the "").

(Feb 2006)
Thank you.
Elliott Parker
====================================================================



Why are More Women than Men Attracted to the Field of Public Relations?
Analyzing Students' Reasons for Studying PR

by
J. Rebecca Folmar, MA student
and
Lois A. Boynton, Ph.D., Assistant Professor
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

For
AEJMC Public Relations Division – Teaching Paper Competition
Contact:
Lois A. Boynton
School of Journalism and Mass Communication
UNC-Chapel Hill
397 Carroll Hall, CB# 3365
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3365
(919) 843-8342
[log in to unmask]
Abstract

Why are More Women than Men Attracted to the Field of Public Relations?
Analyzing Students' Reasons for Studying PR

        This quantitative study explores why more young women than 
young men are attracted to the collegiate study of public relations 
and choose to join the public relations workforce 
professionally.  Women's reasons for being attracted to public 
relations included: it is a profession for which they feel 
well-suited, allowing opportunities for relationship building, 
interpersonal communication, and creativity; and it is a broad, 
portable career path that allows opportunities for advancement as 
well as flexibility for family demands.











        While much has been written about male and female 
practitioners' disparate experiences in the field of public 
relations, few researchers have considered male and female students' 
perceptions of and attitudes toward entering the public relations 
profession, and more specifically, why young women continue to be 
disproportionately attracted to the discipline.  A better 
understanding of students' reasons for entering the public relations 
field is important because such insight could offer educators and 
practitioners alike some indication of the profession's 
future.  Examining the career choices students make is important to 
mass communication researchers, educators, and professionals given 
that many of today's students are tomorrow's practitioners.
        Most research regarding women in public relations focuses on 
the inequities that exist between men and women in terms of salary 
and status in the professional world, and the implications of gender 
discrimination in the public relations profession (e.g., Broom & 
Dozier, 1986; Grunig, Toth, & Hon, 2001; Wright & Springstein, 
1991).  Meanwhile, some research has considered the feminization of 
the field as women have become the predominant practitioners of 
public relations (e.g., Creedon, 1991; Silver, 1988).
        While some research has considered the perceptions women have 
of public relations as a career consideration (Krider & Ross, 1997; 
Toth & Cline, 1991), and the influence of mentors and role models on 
aspiring public relations practitioners (Culbertson, 1985; Rask & 
Bailey, 2002), little research has been done on students' perceptions 
of and attitudes toward the field of public relations. That is, why 
do female students find public relations an attractive career choice, 
especially given the troubling realities, like salary discrepancies 
between the two sexes and fewer opportunities for advancement for 
women, which female public relations professionals continue to 
face?  Building on the questions left unanswered by the existing 
literature, this study explores why more young women than young men 
are attracted to the collegiate study of public relations and choose 
to join the public relations workforce professionally.

LITERATURE REVIEW
        Extensive research has documented gender-based inequities in 
salary and status within the field of public relations (e.g., Cline 
et al., 1986; Toth & Cline, 1989; Grunig, Toth, & Hon, 2001).  Broom 
and Dozier's (1986) longitudinal study of 458 PRSA members found that 
gender and job role are the primary characteristics that affect 
professional advancement. Women tended to work in the low-level 
communication technician roles as men advanced into management 
positions. A PRSA study conducted by Wright and Springstein (1991) 
confirmed Broom and Dozier's (1986) earlier findings that the salary 
disparity that exists in public relations "increases as experience 
increases" (p. 22).  Women were also found to be less optimistic 
about the future with their present employers, and perceived a much 
greater degree of discrimination than men.  	
        More recent research on practitioner perceptions of job 
motivators (Toth & Cline, 1991), roles of female practitioners (Toth 
& Grunig, 1993), and gender discrepancies (Aldoory & Toth, 2002; Choi 
& Hon, 2002) also show the differences in salary, status, and job 
satisfaction men and women experience. Additionally, Krider and Ross 
(1997) found that female participants expressed concern for younger 
people entering the field who might not be familiar with the 
realities of the profession, especially "when roles clash such as 
family and work" (p. 447).  However, research has not adequately 
explained why newcomers to the field, particularly young women, are 
attracted to public relations.
	The feminization of the field. Evident in extensive research is the 
perception that the female majority in public relations "softens" the 
image of the field and causes it not to be seen as a legitimate, 
management-driven profession.  More than 15 years ago, Lesly (1988) 
noted that the impact of a largely female field would have such 
consequences as lowering professional aspirations because women 
wanted to perform technical rather than managerial duties, lowering 
income levels because fields that became "female" experienced such 
losses, and creating the image of public relations as a soft, rather 
than "heavy-hitting top management function" (p. 5).  The same 
perceptions are held of a number of fields, such as teaching and 
social work, in which women do not necessarily outnumber men but find 
themselves never achieving "formal, legitimate authority" (Silver, 
1988, p. 21; see also Reskin & Roos, 1990).  That feminized 
perception may still exist in today's public relations. For example, 
public relations agency founder Harold Burson told USA Today reporter 
Rick Hampton, "Unless more men are attracted to public relations, it 
runs the risk of being regarded as a 'woman's job,'" and, "We'll lose 
a lot of good men" (Hampson, 2001, p. B6).
	Seventeen years ago, Linda R. Silver (1988) speculated that the 
reason feminized professions are often seen as "'semi-professions'" 
(p. 26) can be attributed to the differing goals male and female 
professionals have in regard to relationship management.  While male 
professionals work to advance themselves through their professional 
lives, "using their knowledge to define their clients' needs and 
hence to place themselves above" their clients, women professionals 
place "primary importance on filling the needs of others" (p. 
26).  This difference in management style manifests itself in the 
perceptions people have of certain professions.  Creedon (1991) 
considered public relations specifically and "the trivialization and 
devaluation of what has come to be called the technician's role where 
the majority of women in public relations are employed" (p. 69). 
Creedon concluded that public relations professionals and professors 
alike need to take a "transformative approach" (p. 79) to teaching 
up-and-coming practitioners and students by "re-vision[ing]" (p. 79) 
the assumptions society has about roles and work in public relations.
	As gender and socialization theorists have suggested, interpersonal 
relationships, such as those with role models or mentors, contribute 
significantly in developing a gendered identity (Connell, Ashenden, 
Kessler, & Dowsett, 1982; Kohlberg, 1966).  For example, Culbertson 
(1985) found a perceived need to recruit female and minority 
educators as mentors and role models for female and minority 
students. Rask and Bailey (2002) also found that "the influence of 
students preferring professors like themselves is an important aspect 
of major choice" (p. 113).
	Public relations in the classroom. In their study of public 
relations curricula White, Oukrop, and Nelson (1992) suggested that 
students might be attracted to the study of public relations because 
of its "interdisciplinary broadness that comprises a distinctive 
collection of information" (p. 39).  Compared to non-public relations 
students, public relations students "felt more strongly that being 
well-rounded, intelligent, a good oral communicator, and a good 
writer [were] necessary for success" (p. 41) in one's major and, 
therefore, in one's profession.
	In contrast, little research has been conducted examining students' 
attitudes toward public relations at the collegiate level. DeRosa and 
Wilcox (1989) concluded that men and women choose public relations 
for the same reasons, and that many of the gender stereotypes present 
in the professional world do not hold true at the collegiate 
level.  For instance, contrary to what other studies had maintained, 
female students were found to be equally interested in managerial 
roles as men, and neither gender aspired to the technician level in 
order to balance their careers with other demands.  Farmer and Waugh 
(1999) also concluded that female students are just as interested in 
management roles as male students, but female students expected "to 
earn less money starting out and to be promoted more slowly than 
their male counterparts expect," were "more likely to believe that 
they [would] need to postpone having a family in order to advance 
their careers," (p. 235) and were more willing to perform both 
technical and managerial functions within an organization.	
	In summary, in comparison to the amount of research that has studied 
the gender discrepancy that exists in the professional world and the 
implications of this discrepancy, little research has been done on 
why young women continue to be attracted to the public relations 
field.  While some research has considered the perceptions women have 
of public relations as a career consideration and the influence of 
mentors and role models on aspiring public relations practitioners, 
further research is necessary to determine why exactly young women 
are attracted more than young men to the collegiate-level study of 
public relations and to the field of public relations 
professionally.  In order to understand why the public relations 
field draws female practitioners, this research starts at the 
classroom level, seeking to elaborate on why female students find 
public relations an attractive career choice, especially given the 
troubling realities that female public relations professionals 
continue to face.
HYPOTHESES AND METHOD
        Based on the findings and discrepancies in the literature 
about women in public relations, the following research hypotheses 
are proposed:
H1: 		Female students pursue public relations because they are influenced and
        	inspired by female role models and mentors.
H2: 	Female students are attracted to the field of public relations 
in part because
        	they believe that its emphasis on interpersonal 
communication naturally fits
	their gender roles.
H3: 	Female students pursue careers in public relations because they 
perceive the
        	profession as a flexible and accommodating career.
        This study used the quantitative method of administering a 
survey questionnaire to determine female students' reasons for 
pursuing the public relations profession. Under-graduate and graduate 
students from universities and colleges across the country who 
attended the 2004 National Convention for the Public Relations 
Student Society of America comprised the convenience sample of this 
study. PRSSA "has more than 8,000 members in 248 chapters on college 
campuses across the country" (Golitsinski, 2002), so drawing a sample 
from its membership offered sound generalizability.
	The sampling frame that was used for the survey was a convenience 
sample of 125 male and female PRSSA members 18 or older who attended 
the Convention held in New York City on October 22?24, 2004.  More 
than 1,000 student representatives from PRSSA chapters at schools 
across the country attend the National Convention each year, 
representing their respective collegiate PRSSA chapters and thereby 
their fellow public relations students.  Because the sampling frame 
offered a diverse group of respondents, it provided a fairly 
representative sample of public relations students at the 
undergraduate and graduate level.  However, it must be noted that not 
every university or college in America may have a PRSSA chapter, and 
not every PRSSA chapter may have chosen to send representatives to 
the 2004 PRSSA National Convention.  Potential respondents from 
smaller schools, for example, were likely excluded from the study 
because they did not have members of PRSSA or did not send students 
to the convention.
	The survey operationalized this study's major constructs by asking 
respondents to respond to 17 interval-level Likert scale statements 
and to provide responses to four open-ended questions.  Together, the 
two sections of the survey attempted to gauge respondents' attitudes 
toward and opinions about issues surrounding this study's three 
hypotheses. In addition to general questions about gender, age, and 
education, the questionnaire asked students to gauge their reasons 
for choosing to study public relations, the role of professors and 
mentors, whether communication abilities are a function of gender, 
and their attitudes toward public relations as a career. 
Additionally, a series of open-ended questions probed the students' 
views on gender discrepancy in the classroom, as well as their 
beliefs regarding the profession.
        The survey was pre-tested among a group of 40 male and female 
undergraduate and graduate public relations students a southeastern 
university. The researcher facilitated an interactive session with 
the students to discuss whether the survey questions were clear and 
what aspects could be improved.  Results from the interactive session 
were used to improve the survey before it was administered at the 
2004 PRSSA National Conference.
        The survey instrument was distributed in print form to a 
convenience sample of 125 PRSSA members on October 22, 2004, the 
first day of the Convention.  Respondents were given 30 minutes to 
complete the survey.  The questionnaire was collected upon an 
individual respondent's completion of the survey or at the end of the 
allotted time.
        Data from the survey was assessed using SPSS statistical 
software. In addition to variable frequencies, bivariate Pearson 
correlation coefficients were computed among the data's original 
variables in order to determine if there were any significant 
relationships between any two given variables.  Also, an 
independent-samples t test was run to test the difference between the 
means of the two genders.
        In addition to this t test, a one-way ANOVA test was 
conducted with independent age and year in school variables. For both 
tests, the ANOVA F test was used to evaluate whether the group means 
on the dependent variables differed significantly from one 
another.  For significant F tests, two follow-up tests, Tukey and 
Dunnett's C, were used to evaluate pair-wise differences among the 
means, or comparisons between pairs of group means.  The researcher 
decided which post hoc test to analyze based on the level of 
significance of Levene's homogeneity of variances test.
        Open-ended questions were collected in a separate database in 
Microsoft Word by the research assistant and were analyzed separately 
from the quantitative data by the researcher using a systematic data 
analysis process.  Data were coded and categorized based on patterns 
and themes that emerged.  The ultimate goal of the analysis of the 
qualitative portion of the survey was to obtain and maintain the emic 
perspective of the respondents (Daymon & Holloway, 2002).

FINDINGS
	Of the 105 participants who completed the survey, 79% (n = 83) were 
female, and 21% (n = 22) were male.  With the exception of four 
graduate student respondents, all the students were undergraduates; 
24% (n = 25) were juniors, and 64 % (n = 67) were seniors.  Almost 
50% were either 21 (n = 26) or 22 (n = 26) years of age.
        Respondents represented colleges and universities from across 
the country, including schools in Alabama, Arizona, California, 
Florida, Hawaii, Michigan, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, South 
Carolina, Texas, and Utah, among others.  Eighty-four percent of 
students (n = 88) were public relations majors.  The remaining 14% of 
non-public relations majors (n = 15) listed courses of study as 
advertising, English, fashion marketing, international management, 
marketing, organizational communication, psychology, and speech 
communications as their primary majors.  Twenty-one percent of 
students (n = 22) marked public relations as their second major, with 
courses of study as broadcast, business communications, English, 
fashion merchandising management, history, marketing, mass 
communications, political science, public speaking, Spanish, and 
theater as their other majors.  Only 5% of respondents (n = 5) 
indicated that they were pursuing a minor in public relations.
	Public relations and gender in the classroom. Ninety-two percent of 
respondents (n = 97) answered affirmatively that women outnumber men 
in their public relations classes. There was a correlation between 
males' responses and this statement that was significant, r(103) = 
-.21, p < .05.  Likewise, the significant independent-samples t test, 
t(103) = 2.13, p = .035, showed the same relationship. In response to 
open-ended questions, many students who answered that women 
outnumbered men in their public relations classes admitted that they 
were "unsure," had "no clue," or had "no idea" why that is the 
case.  A significant number of respondents attributed the gender 
imbalance to the fact that women outnumbered men at their college or 
university or in the communications department specifically.
         Attractions to public relations.  Ninety-one percent of 
respondents (n = 96) marked that they agreed or strongly agreed that 
public relations is an attractive subject to study in school because 
the coursework is interesting, and 90% agreed (n = 46) or strongly 
agreed (n = 48) that public relations is attractive because the 
coursework is enjoyable. Sixty-six percent of students (n = 69) 
either strongly disagreed or disagreed that public relations is an 
attractive subject to study because the coursework is less demanding 
than that of other subjects.
        Interestingly, subjects disagreed or strongly disagreed to 
the influence of peers (72%), professors (54%), or internships (50%) 
on their decisions to pursue public relations.  However, pedagogical 
style did affect the respondents' decision to continue studying 
public relations; 52% of students agreed or strongly agreed to the 
influence of professors' teaching methods.
         Role models and mentors. Sixty percent of respondents (n = 
63) indicated that they do not consider themselves as having a public 
relations mentor.  Of the 38% (n = 40) who indicated that they do 
have a mentor in public relations, 32% (n = 34) noted that their 
mentor is one of their public relations professors.  Other categories 
like colleague from work, family member, peer, or public relations 
classmate received fewer than 5% of the responses.  According to the 
significant independent-samples t test, t(103) = -1.17, p = .024, 
more women indicated that their mentor was a colleague from work, 
meaning an internship or full- or part-time employment. Of the 38% (n 
= 40) who indicated that they do have a mentor in public relations, 
19% indicated that their mentor was male, and 21% indicated that 
their mentor was female.
        Yet, students were fairly neutral and somewhat divided in 
their responses to the statement that their mentor(s) are extremely 
influential in their making decisions about their future.  Thirty-one 
percent of students indicated a neutral response (n = 32), while 15% 
strongly disagreed (n = 16) with this statement, 28% agreed (n = 29), 
and 17% strongly agreed (n = 18).
        In general, responses were split in answer to the statement 
that female students are influenced by female role models and 
mentors, while male students are influenced by male role models and 
mentors.  Roughly 25% of respondents strongly disagreed (n = 27), 25% 
disagreed (n = 25), 25% were neutral (n = 22), and 25% agreed (n = 
24) with this statement.
        Fifty-three percent of students indicated that either one (n 
= 19), two (n = 19), or three (n = 18) of their public relations 
classes have been taught by women, while 52% of students responded 
that either one (n = 26), two (n = 14), or three (n = 15) of their 
public relations classes have been taught by men.  Only 6% of 
respondents' classes (n = 7) have been co-taught by male and female 
professors.
         Interpersonal communication and gender roles. While 27% of 
respondents strongly disagreed (n = 29) with the statement that women 
are better suited to practice public relations than men, 24% agreed 
(n = 26), and 31% indicated a neutral response (n = 32). The 
correlation between gender and women as being better suited to 
practice public relations was significant, r(103) = .27, p < 
.001.  The independent-samples t test that evaluated the three 
hypotheses echoed this finding, indicating that more female 
respondents agreed that females are better public relations 
practitioners.  The test indicated statistical significance, t(103) = 
-2.78, p = .006.  In addition to these findings, there was a 
significant correlation, r(103) = -.30, p < .001, between age and 
this statement, indicating that younger respondents were more likely 
to agree that women are better practitioners.
        Almost 50% of students either agreed (n = 38) or strongly 
agreed (n = 13) with the statement that women are better 
communicators than men.  Thirty-three percent either strongly 
disagreed (n = 13) or disagreed (n = 22) with this statement, while 
18% indicated a neutral response (n = 19).  The significance of the 
independent-samples t test, t(103) = -4.72, p = .000, indicated that 
more females than males agreed that women are better communicators 
than men.  Interestingly, there was a significant correlation between 
age and this statement as well, r(103) = -.30, p < .001, indicating 
that younger respondents were more likely to agree with this 
statement.  A similar finding, that significantly more underclassmen 
(18 and 19 years of age) than graduates agreed that women are better 
communicators than men, was reaffirmed by the one-way ANOVA F test, 
F(2, 102) = 3.34, p = .036, where the independent variable was age.
        In response to open-ended questions, most of the respondents 
speculated that "women are more attracted to PR because they are able 
to use creativity and communications in their work, areas in which 
they excel" and "women appear more caring therefore…they have 
successes in PR."  Other respondents noted that "women enjoy 
interaction and event planning" and "are more organized and like 
planning 'fun' things" than men, and that "men want to do other 
things than build relationships."
	A noticeable number of students responded that men major in 
business, specifically marketing or management, or in 
engineering.  "I believe men choose marketing courses more often," 
one female noted, "because it is perceived as a business subject and 
taught at the business school."  Meanwhile, one respondent touched on 
the nebulousness of public relations that might be a turn-off to men, 
stating, "I don't think men really understand what PR is about."
        Many respondents noted that men might also be turned off by 
the fact that financial rewards are not necessarily a guarantee in 
public relations.  "I feel that PR may not be a field where you make 
a huge amount of money, and men feel pressure from society to be 
successful," one respondent noted.   Also, some respondents wrote 
that PR is seen as "stereotypically a girly subject" and a "feminine 
profession" or "woman's job."  One female respondent wrote, "I think 
that developing relationships and planning events seems [sic] more 
like a 'girly' job, and men are afraid of how they will be 
received…like a 'party planner.'" She added, "The men that are in my 
PR classes are interested in advertising and more 'manly careers.'"
	Public relations as an accommodating career.  An overwhelming 93% of 
respondents either agreed (n = 40) or strongly agreed (n = 58) that a 
career in public relations seems like it would be fun, and 60% of 
students either agreed (n = 30) or strongly agreed (n = 32) that it 
would offer flexibility.  Forty-five percent of respondents indicated 
a neutral response (n = 47) to the statement that public relations 
professionals make more money than people in other journalism 
careers.  The independent-samples t test, t(103) = 1.87, p = .029, 
affirmed that fact that significantly more men agreed with the 
statement that public relations professionals make more money.
	In open-ended responses, men and women had different rationale for 
their interests in studying public relations. Female respondents 
listed a variety of reasons, including the fact that they enjoy 
writing (but not news reporting), dealing with people, public 
speaking, and the idea of "providing a service to a client."  Many 
women remarked that public relations "seems fast-paced" and exciting, 
offering flexibility as well as room to advance.  Women also noted 
that public relations offers creativity and a diversity of areas 
within the field to pursue, a characteristic they did not find in 
traditional broadcast or print journalism.  "I enjoy the coupling of 
creativity and organization," one female senior noted.  Meanwhile, 
another female senior wrote, "I have always wanted to go into some 
type of marketing, and I like more hands-one rather than the business 
aspect" that public relations offers.  Public relations "doesn't 
require a lot of math and science skills, and it's fun," stated a 
female junior.
	The male respondents had some differing reasons. Two male 
respondents remarked that they are studying public relations "to 
round out [their] business education" and as "a way to improve my 
skills."  One senior male wrote, "I realized how much power and 
influence one can have in the area of PR," while another senior male 
noted, "I wanted to protect reputable companies from predatory 
media."  One junior male wrote, "I realized that I have good skills 
in communication and was interested by the ethical aspect of PR as 
well as the broad opportunities it offers."
	Working in public relations. Eighty-four percent of students (n = 
88) answered affirmatively that they are planning to pursue a career 
that involves public relations.  Of these respondents, most indicated 
that they wanted to work for a public relations firm or agency (n = 
80) or in corporate communications (n = 54).  Respondents were 
allowed to check more than one category of interest, but 
interestingly, the categories of nonprofit communications (n = 25), 
government/public affairs (n = 23), independent consultancy (n = 15), 
and start your own firm or consultancy (n = 22), each received fewer 
than 25% of responses.  Other categories listed by respondents 
included pursuing public relations careers in the entertainment, 
event planning, fashion, health care, music, sports, travel, and 
tourism sectors.
        The independent-samples t test, t(103) = -2.33, p = .024, 
showed that significantly more women responded that they are 
interested in the nonprofit sector.  Meanwhile, there was a 
significant correlation between men and responses to 
government/public affairs, r(103) = -.24, p < .05; and a significant 
correlation between men and responses to independent consultancy, 
r(103) = -.26, p < .001).  According to the one-way ANOVA F test, 
F(2, 102) = 3.81, p = .025, where the independent variable was year 
in school, significantly more graduates than underclassmen and 
upperclassmen responded that were interested in government/public 
affairs.  Meanwhile, the one-way ANOVA F test, F(2, 102) = 7.28, p = 
.001, where the independent variable was age, indicated that more 
underclassmen than upperclassmen responded that they would like to 
start their own firm or consultancy.
        Eighty-three percent of respondents (n = 87) answered 
affirmatively that they are planning on having a family, but 
interestingly, 59% (n = 61) indicated that are not planning on 
quitting their careers to raise children.  More precisely, 68% of 
male respondents (n = 15) marked that they are not planning on 
quitting their career, while 55% of female respondents (n = 46) 
indicated the same response.  Thirty-one percent of total respondents 
(n = 33) were unsure.  Thirty percent of the students (n = 32) who 
plan to have a family indicated that they thought they would leave 
their career temporarily to raise children with the intent to return 
to their career pursuits.
	There were mixed feelings expressed in comments made to open-ended 
questions about career flexibility and family matters.  One female 
respondent noted, "I think women today are more ambitious than they 
have ever been….Therefore, family matters and thoughts about having 
children, and leaving my career for them, has been something to think 
deeply about."  Another female respondent, though, made the comment 
"I think a career in PR could be flexible if you own your own agency 
or are very high up on the 'totem pole.'  It would be a very 
demanding career and possibly would be difficult to have a family."

DISCUSSION OF RESULTS
        While findings indicated that students are influenced by role 
models, especially professors, specific findings from the survey's 
quantitative statements and questions failed to support the first 
hypothesis, which stated that female students pursue public relations 
because they are influenced and inspired by female role models and 
mentors.  It appeared, rather, that for the 38% of students who 
responded that they have a mentor in public relations, the gender of 
mentor was not significant factor.  Likewise, findings from the 
qualitative questions designed to test the first hypothesis indicated 
that female students have both male and female mentors and professors 
they consider to have been influential in their decision to pursue 
public relations.
        Findings from the quantitative and qualitative statements and 
questions supported the second hypothesis, which stated that female 
students are attracted to the field of public relations in part 
because they believe that its emphasis on interpersonal communication 
naturally fits their gender roles.  Both correlations and 
independent-samples t tests indicated that more women agreed that 
women are better suited to practice public relations and are better 
communicators in general.  Meanwhile, nearly two-thirds of men 
strongly disagreed with each of these statements.
        Data from the survey indicated that both genders disagreed 
with the statement that their public relations coursework is less 
demanding than that of their other classes, negating any assumption 
that students choose public relations because it is an easy course of 
study.  Instead, a large proportion of both male and female 
respondents noted that they find public relations coursework 
interesting and enjoyable, and likewise, both genders thought of a 
career in public relations as being fun.
        Lastly, findings supported the third hypothesis, which stated 
that female students pursue careers in public relations because they 
perceive the profession as a flexible and accommodating 
career.  While quantitatively 58% of women agreed or strongly agreed 
that public relations seems like a flexible line of work, many of 
these women expressed in their responses to qualitative questions 
that public relations also seems demanding, high-powered, and 
flexible only after years of "paying your dues."  It is worth noting 
that, in general, findings indicated that while nearly half of total 
respondents agreed that public relations seems to be an accommodating 
and flexible line of work, 35% were unsure, reflecting the mixed 
perceptions both male and female students have of the public relations field.
        In terms of answering why women are more attracted than men 
to the field of public relations and why it is they continue to 
dominate in number the study of public relations, clues from data 
suggested reasons men might be unattracted to public relations.  Four 
reasons emerged from the study: First, survey respondents perceive a 
certain degree of ambiguity associated with public 
relations.  Because public relations does not have one definition by 
which it is known, the profession carries with it a stigma of being 
somewhat nebulous in nature.  In other words, the very nature of 
public relations might be a turn-off for males.  Existing literature 
on gender research suggests that women are more apt to deal with 
ambiguity better than men (Grunig, Toth, & Hon, 2001). Second, public 
relations was not perceived as offering guarantee of status, 
financial rewards, or recognition for one's work. Although male 
respondents perceived public relations jobs paying more than other 
journalism positions, salaries are not perceived as comparable to 
other professions, which men may prefer. Third, this study identified 
a feminine stigma attached to public relations, from which men might 
shy away. Male respondents admitted to perceiving public relations as 
a "women's job."  Female respondents to one of the open-ended 
questions noted that men might be afraid of how they will be 
perceived if they pursue public relations.  It was suggested that 
"men want to do other things than build relationships" and plan 
events.  Finally, male students may not be attracted to public 
relations because there may be fewer role models suggesting to young 
men to pursue a career in public relations straight out of college.
        Additionally, both quantitative and qualitative data from the 
survey indicated that students perceive public relations as being a 
broad career, applicable to many areas of expertise, and providing 
skills that one can carry to many other professions.  The fact that 
public relations is an accommodating profession that allows its 
practitioners a great deal of creativity is another reason why women 
might be attracted to it.  Besides being broad and portable, public 
relations was also perceived as being accommodating and flexible, 
which may be another reason why, despite the inequalities women face 
in the professional world of public relations, female students 
continue to be attracted to public relations and dominate in number 
public relations classes.  Data from the survey indicated that while 
nearly half of the total respondents agreed that public relations 
seems to be an accommodating line of work, women in particular 
perceived the profession as being flexible.  Qualitative responses to 
open-ended questions also reflected that women felt public relations, 
while demanding, is likely to be more flexible than a career in 
traditional news-editorial journalism.
	In general, though, women's reasons for being attracted to public 
relations included the fact that it is a profession for which they 
feel well-suited, allowing opportunities for relationship building, 
interpersonal communication, and creativity.  Also, women shared that 
they were attracted to public relations because it is a broad, 
portable career path that allows opportunities for advancement as 
well as flexibility for family demands.

CONCLUSIONS
        Over the last 20 years, a wealth of research has been devoted 
to issues surrounding gender and pubic relations.  Practitioners and 
researchers alike have expressed concerns about the increasing number 
of women in public relations.  In particular, a plethora of research 
has considered the gender discrepancies evident in the professional 
world of public relations and their implications for the profession 
in general.  While much has been written about the inequalities women 
face due to the gender imbalance, with the exception of general 
feminist literature, little research has been conducted at the 
undergraduate and graduate level within colleges and universities to 
investigate the question of why so many more young females than males 
are attracted to the study of public relations.  Also the question as 
to why, given all the inequities women face, women continue to pursue 
public relations as a professional career had, until now, yet to be explored.
	Findings from this study contribute to the body of scholarly 
knowledge by exploring students' reasons for studying public 
relations.  As suggested by the literature, public relations has been 
one of the few professions that has been "opened up" by women. 
Findings from this study confirmed that women, who are socialized to 
be more expressive and nurturing, are well-suited to public 
relations, as it is a career that focuses on the building and 
maintaining of mutually-beneficial relationships.  Findings also 
indicated that females perceive public relations as being a 
well-suited career for women given that it is flexible and 
accommodating, offering women the ability to balance career and 
family demands.  It is worrisome, however, that female college 
students may not be aware of the inequities women face in the 
professional world of public relations.  It is important that public 
relations professors who have had experience in the field share with 
their students the negative, along with the positive, aspects of 
their experience, so that students will not remain ignorant of any 
discrepancies and obstacles existing in the professional world.
	Another implication of this research is that there seems to be a 
shortage of mentors to young men, perhaps explaining the gender 
imbalance among public relations students.  It is worrisome as well 
that there exists an imbalance among the two genders, as public 
relations is supposed to represent various publics, not just female 
consumers.  "If we're called in by a client to influence behavior, 
our input should come from a group of people balanced by gender," 
said Harold Burson, founder and chairman of Burson-Marsteller, in a 
2001 article by Rick Hampson appearing in USA Today (p. B6).
        Thus, colleges and universities should recruit experienced 
public relations professionals of both genders to teach public 
relations courses.  Schools should also develop mentoring schemes to 
match students with practicing professionals in the real world on a 
semester basis.  This practice would allow students to have the 
opportunity to shadow a professional and get a taste of what the 
world of public relations is like outside of the classroom.  	
        Further research is needed. To address the fact that survey 
findings are based on self-reporting data by participants, engaging a 
random selection of survey respondents in follow-up, in-depth 
interviews, might offer further insight into why women pursue public 
relations in the classroom and as a career.  Also, further research 
might be conducted among practitioners in the public relations field 
and among students not pursuing degrees within a journalism school 
setting in order to offer greater insight from professionals and 
students who may be able to add another perspective regarding why 
women and men tend to be attracted to different subject areas and careers.
        It is worth noting that few authors have considered how the 
public relations profession is well-suited to women, and even fewer 
have expressed concern that we might be ignoring the positive 
contributions women have made on the profession.  Much of the 
existing literature addressing the effects of the feminization of 
public relations is largely negative in tone, rather than suggesting 
a promising take on the issue of gender.  In other words, while the 
increase of the number of women has been seen by some as harming the 
profession, few authors have considered how the influx of women has 
helped the profession.  Further research that would provide valuable 
information to the both the professional and academic worlds of pubic 
relations should focus on considering the promising aspects 
surrounding women as the future of public relations.  While this 
particular study fulfilled its goals of considering why students are 
pursing public relations as a course of study and as a career to 
pursue, further research should focus on the positive contributions 
of women in the field, emphasizing how women may well be better 
suited, naturally, to practice the profession.  Young practitioners, 
from the moment they enter their careers, could, armed with this new 
body of literature discussed in their public relations classes, lobby 
for public relations at the management table and seek to regain the 
functions' credibility for the profession's sake.


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